Category: Discoveries

Recently Upgraded Rubens Offered at Sotheby's

July 6 2020

Image of Recently Upgraded Rubens Offered at Sotheby's

Picture: Metro

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A recently re-emerged portrait by Peter Paul Rubens has been published by the press today.

The above Portrait of a Lady was sold in 2017 at Tennants in Yorkshire for £65,000 (hammer) as by the Workshop of Rubens. Recent cleaning of the work has revealed its true quality, including several pentimenti in the sky. This evidence amounted to the fact that the painting is indeed an original and not a copy. The provenance of the portrait and its exhibition history looks interesting too. I look forward to reading the catalogue note in full.

The portrait will be included in Sotheby's Old Master Paintings sale on 29th July with an estimate of £2.5m - £3.5m.

Couple Reunited at the Mauritshuis

June 30 2020

Image of Couple Reunited at the Mauritshuis

Picture: Mauritshuis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Wonderful news that a diptych of a betrothed couple has been reunited after a century apart.

Curator Ariane van Suchtelen had spent twenty years looking for the companion to the Mauritshuis's portrait of Elisabeth Bellinghausen by Bartholomäus Bruyn the Elder (1493-1555). The picture, dated to 1538/9, is actually on a long term loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The companion portrait of Elisabeth's fiance, Jakob Omphalius, was separated from his wife-to-be around a hundred years ago.

Jakob's portrait appeared at auction in 2019 where it was purchased by the De Jonckheere gallery. A curator in Germany saw it and informed the Rijksmuseum, who then alerted the Mauritshuis to its reappearance. The Mauritshuis managed to raise the funds to buy it where the couple has finally been reunited.

The way both portraits correspond in terms of colouring and details is enchanting. Portraits of married couples were often, and sometimes still are, split up. This is especially the case when one of the pair are considered more 'commercially attractive' than the other. But this reunited pair really does make the case for how harmonious it can be when two pictures are presented together as they were originally intended.

Study for Versailles Painting up for Auction

June 19 2020

Image of Study for Versailles Painting up for Auction

Picture: Millon

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This very fine unpublished head study by François Lemoyne (1688-1737) is coming up for sale at Millon in France on 1st July. It relates Lemoyne's masterpiece The Apotheosis of Hercules (1731-6) which graces the ceiling of the Hercules Room at the Palace of Versailles. There is another related head study by the artist in the British Museum.

The estimate for this work on paper is €40,000 - €60,000, and has been given its own sale by the looks of it. One to keep your eye on!

Fourteenth Century Sculpture Found in River

June 18 2020

Image of Fourteenth Century Sculpture Found in River

Picture: Artnetnews

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A sculpture of the Virgin Mary has been pulled out a river on the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Some experts believe the sculpture to date to the fourteenth century.

The fisherman who found the sculpture gave the following interview:

“I noticed the stone was square—which is odd in a river,” the fisherman, Fernando Brey, told local newspaper La Voz de Galicia. “And then I looked at its lines, at the cape and at the shape of the head. And I said to myself: ‘There’s something here.’”

Curiously, lots of medieval swords end up being discovered in river beds either due to ferry accidents or ritualistic offerings. Mud and silt help preserve them in relatively good condition.

CFP: Hidden Gems

June 15 2020

Image of CFP: Hidden Gems

Picture: ICOM

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

As this blog celebrates new research into overlooked works of art, it seems only right that I share this rather interesting call for papers advert.

ICOM, International Committee for Museums and Collections of Decorative Arts and Design, are putting on a conference on the theme 'Hidden Gems'. Accepted papers will be examining objects in decorative arts collections that speakers feel should receive more scholarly and public attention. The conference will be held digitally on 15-16 October 2020.

As their call for papers document explains:

Does your collection have objects that you wish scholars and visitors knew more about? What is the subject on which you have always wanted to present an exhibition or essay, or a small yet significant story that has not yet been highlighted at your institution? If you work with a private collection, what in your holdings would you most like to see made accessible to the wider design community?

The deadline for submissions, consisting of 250-300 word abstracts, is 1st July 2020.

Rubens Self Portrait on Loan to Rubens Huis

June 10 2020

Image of Rubens Self Portrait on Loan to Rubens Huis

Picture: Rubens Huis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rubens Huis in Antwerp has announced that it will be loaning a newly emerged self portrait by Rubens.

The picture is likely to date from c.1604 when the painter was in Italy. It is a study of his head which he featured in an enormous work entitled The Gonzaga Family Adoring the Trinity painted for the Jesuit Church in Mantua. The picture was cut up by Napoleon's troops in the early nineteenth century and surviving fragments are now spread across museums around the world.

The self portrait is oil on paper transfered to canvas and a good image can be found via the link above.

Sotheby's to Auction Rembrandt Self Portrait

June 7 2020

Image of Sotheby's to Auction Rembrandt Self Portrait

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news breaking this evening that Sotheby's will be offering a recently rediscovered Self Portrait by Rembrandt in their July sale.

The portrait was seemingly rejected by art historians in 1970 but experts have changed their minds. Reports suggest that this is partly due to new scientific analysis undertaken on the work. Dendrochronology samples have proven that the painting's panel support came from the same tree as used in Rembrandt's portrait of Maurits Huygens in the Hamburg Kunsthalle.

The painting will be offered on 28th July 2020 in London with an estimate of £12m - £16m.

Update - Further press articles have explained that the picture was with Noortman Master Paintings in the mid 2000s where it was acquired by the current owner. It seems that it was also exhibited at TEFAF in this period. The self portrait was exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in 1997 and the National Gallery, London, in 1999. I'll post the full catalogue entry when it is made available in due course.

Update 2 - Here is the official press release from Sotheby's.

Early Boucher Discovered in Wardrobe

June 5 2020

Image of Early Boucher Discovered in Wardrobe

Picture: Gazette Drouot

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Gazette Drouot has published news that the auction house Daguerre have discovered an early work by François Boucher (1703-1770) in a wardrobe of a private house.

The work dating to the 1720s shows a young man playing the hurdy gurdy (click to listen to a music clip), an instrument that was rather popular in eighteenth century France. It was last sold from the collection of Vicomte Beuret in 1924 where it was described as 'attributed to Boucher'.

This rare early work is coming up for sale at Daguerre's sale on 23rd June with an estimate of €40,000 - €60,000. It seems very likely that the final price will soar past this tempting estimate!

Update - The painting made 494,000 (inc. fees).

Mary Boleyn Portrait Reidentified in Royal Collection

June 1 2020

Image of Mary Boleyn Portrait Reidentified in Royal Collection

Picture: The Royal Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Sunday Telegraph have reported on news of a discovery made in the Royal Collection by the Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project (JVDPPP). For a long time the above portrait was simply known as 'Portrait of a Woman' and thought to be a copy of some missing picture. Through diligent research the project was able to reidentify this portrait as an image of Mary Boleyn, sister to the Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleyn.

The reidentification was made possible by drawing comparison with other versions of Mary Boleyn's likeness including those at Longford Castle and Warwick Castle

Furthermore, research had shown the portrait to have been one of the '14 Beauties' that decorated Queen Anne's Bathing Room at Windsor Castle. These portraits were mostly seventeenth century copies of known pictures by the likes of Van Dyck, Lely and Cooper. The project was also able to reidentify a stunning portrait by Remigius van Leemput now known to depict Margaret Smith, Mrs Thomas Carey later Lady Herbert.

The JVDPPP have uploaded the full article on their website if you can't get through the Telegraph paywall.

Rembrandt Revealed in Allentown

May 29 2020


Video: Allentown Art Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania will be opening a new exhibition later this summer unveiling a recently upgraded Rembrandt in their collection. Portrait of a Young Woman had long been considered a studio work, however, a detailed conservation project which began in 2018 revealed that this was a painting from the master's hand. The above video details some of collaborative work with conservators from the MET and other institutions.

I can't seem to find any details on which scholarly authorities authenticated the work. Such details are of equal interest when it comes to upgrading a Rembrandt.

Early Ribera at Daguerre

May 26 2020

Image of Early Ribera at Daguerre

Picture: Daguerre

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A newly discovered painting by Jusepe de Ribera (1588-1656) is coming up for sale at the Parisian auction house Daguerre on 16th June. This painting, said to depict an ancient philosopher, was uncovered in a house in the west of France last year. The artwork was unveiled in January as a rare early canvas by Ribera painted in Rome between the years 1610 - 1615. It was due to be sold in March before the lockdown delayed the sale.

The picture carries as estimate of €200,000 - €300,000. In January the French press speculated that several museums are eyeing up the painting. I wonder if this is still the case?

Update - The picture made 1,400,000 (hammer price).

Mystery Painting acquired by Art Gallery in Toronto

April 7 2020

Image of Mystery Painting acquired by Art Gallery in Toronto

Picture: The Star 

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada, are appealing to experts to find out more about one of the gallery's recent acquisitions.

The mid-eighteenth century painting entitled "Portrait of a Lady Holding an Orange Blossom" is believed to have been painted by a European trained artist living in some part of the globe. Currently, absolutely no information is known about who the sitter was or where it was painted.

As the AGO's assistant curator of European Art Adam Levine explains;

'Portrait of a Lady Holding an Orange Blossom' is an extremely rare work because few depictions of people of colour by European-trained artists from the 18th century have survived.

Given the scarcity of works that are like this painting, it really ecnourages us to cast a wide net with our research and talk to experts all around the world.

Update - Bendor here, adding my two pence worth;

When this picture came up for sale at auction, there was mention of traces of a signature, 'J Schul.. fec.' This was linked tenatively to names such as Johann Caspar Schulz (1735/50-1846), Joachim Christian Schulz (1721-1786), and Johann Christian Schulz (active circa 1750). I can't make any convincing matches to these names myself, and I wonder if J. S. C. Schaak (active 1759–1780) might be a name to consider. He's principally known for painting General Wolfe, on a small scale, but he did larger works, such as these and these

The Gestingthorpe Choir - Reidentified

April 4 2020

Image of The Gestingthorpe Choir - Reidentified

Picture: The Telegraph

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Telegraph have a published a fascinating news story today regarding the reidentification of a group portrait of musicians.

The said picture belongs to London art dealer and Fake or Fortune? presenter Philip Mould, who purchased the large scale painting at an auction several decades ago. Over the past few days Philip has been presenting a brilliant daily series exploring his private collection kept in his Oxfordshire home, all in response to the #ArtInIsolation that is sweeping social media during the present lockdown.

Andy Craig, a local historian and chairman of his village’s history society, watched Philip’s video online when he realised that it matched a long lost painting described in Notes on the Parish of Gestingthorpe, published in 1905. The painting’s naïve feel, identified in the pamphlet as The Gestingthorpe Choir, indicates that it is likely to have been produced by a local provincial artist.

Most curiously, and as Philip discovered when he had the painting cleaned, the canvas bears the names of each of the musicians and servants (including the dog). Speaking as someone who pays a lot of attention to musical subjects in paintings, its also quite rare to see a struck dulcimer in pictures of this period (!). They are still quite popular in places like Hungary, where they are called a Cimbalom.

Perhaps this lockdown presents the chance for galleries and museums to highlight some of their more puzzling pictures online. Who knows who might be watching.

Click here to read the article (behind a paywall, unfortunately)…

Botticelli discovery in Greenwich

April 8 2019

Video: BBC

A painting belonging to English Heritage at Rangers House in Greenwich has been found to come from Botticelli's workshop, rather than the later copy it was long thought to be. More here.  

Not Malevich, but Maria Dzhagubova

April 8 2019

Image of Not Malevich, but Maria Dzhagubova

Picture: Guardian

Here's a fascinating story from The Guardian; a portrait recently exhibited at Tate in London as by Malevich is in fact by his pupil, Maria Dzhagubova. Research by Andrey Vasiliev in Russia has shown that the above portrait of Elizaveta Yakovleva (above) is recorded in Soviet archives as a work by Dzhagubova, but at some point in recent decades it has acquired a 'Malevich' signature. 

The picture was praised as an important work by Malevich when it was exhibited in London:

So, though the portrait was praised during the Tate show by Nicholas Cullinan, now director of the National Portrait Gallery, as a work in which Malevich used colour to rebel by “tacitly alluding to the innovations he had pioneered”, it seems it can no longer be regarded as an exciting addition to the figurative output of Malevich, an artist best known for his minimalist 1913 work, Black Square. Cullinan told the Observer he remembers his praise for the work, but had no comment on doubts about its attribution.

A lost Leonardo sculpture in London?

March 11 2019

Video: via You Tube

Research for a new exhibition on Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence has raised the fascinating possibility that a small terracotta sculpture in the V&A previously attributed to Antonio Rossellino is in fact by Leonardo da Vinci. If so, it would be the only known, surviving sculpture by him. The attribution has been proposed by Francesco Caglioti, and is supported by Carmen Bambach of the Met.

A video preview of the exhibition is above, with the terracotta appearing about halfway through. More on the attribution here. A link to the exhibition is here. The V&A's online catalogue still gives the attribution as Rossellino (readers of my Art Newspaper column may know that the V&A doesn't always leap enthusiastically on new attributions, if they are proposed by outsiders - though to be fair this is common in major museums, which can get very territorial). If you click on the download button and promise not to be naughty with the V&A's images, you can access a number of high resolution photos. Let's hope that the V&A are preparing to capitalise on the news by putting the sculpture on display as soon as it gets back from Florence in July. 

Is there a €120m Caravaggio in your roof? (ctd.)

March 5 2019

Video: Cabinet Turquin

Regular readers may remember the Judith & Holofernes painting that was discovered in an attic in Toulouse in 2016, and declared to be by Caravaggio. When it was discovered, the picture was placed on the list of French national treasures, but now the picture is not listed as such, and can therefore be sold internationally. To publicise the forthcoming sale, the French art expert who first helped find the picture, Eric Turquin, brought the picture to London for a press conference. It is now described as 'the Toulouse Caravaggio'. The picture will be sold later this year in Toulouse, but with no reserve. It's a bold move, and Turquin has been quite open about the picture's mixed reception among Caravaggio scholars. 

I've never met Eric Turquin, but I like his approach to this picture; as you can see in the video above, it's combative, which is unusual in the art world. Normally, you're supposed to be exceptionally deferential, and modest. People will shower more claim on you for finding a minor, footnote worthy document than for discovering anything as vulgar as a new painting. Turquin is having none of it, and points out that there are many more discoveries to make. 

Scott Reyburn has a good article in the New York Times on the split scholarly opinions on the attribution, after the picture was put on display in Milan. Backers of the picture include Keith Christiansen of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, who is highly respected. At least one of the doubters has been shown, from another recent case, to be a good scholar on Caravaggio, while not having a good eye for Caravaggio. Some doubters point to areas of apparent 'crudeness', and yet it's worth remembering that Caravaggio could often be exceptionally crude. We can happily dismiss those whose kneejerk reaction was the picture was a modern fake. I wouldn't presume to have an opinion, not having seen the picture, but I think nonetheless that Turquin and his colleagues have made a strong case. If I were the powers that be in France, I would think twice about letting the picture out of the country.

New Giorgione drawing

February 18 2019

Image of New Giorgione drawing

Picture: via The Australian

Exciting news that a previously unknown drawing by Giorgione has been discovered in Sydney. From The Australian:

The red-chalk drawing by Giorgione was found at the University of Sydney library, inside a 1497 edition of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.

University of Melbourne emeritus professor Jaynie Anderson, an international expert on the elusive Renaissance painter, ­described the find as “astonishing” and estimated its worth to be “in the millions”. She said the discovery “transforms our understanding of ­Giorgione’s life and his relation to other artists”.

Sydney University librarian Kim Wilson made the discovery. She promptly asked Professor ­Anderson for advice on the red-chalk drawing in the light of its ­accompanying handwritten inscription in black ink.

There'll be more on the drawing in next month's Burlington Magazine

The drawing represents a rare addition to poor Giorgione's ever-shrinking oeuvre - but will it be long before this too is attributed instead to early Titian?

New Paintings in Pompei

February 17 2019

Image of New Paintings in Pompei

Picture: via BBC

Archaeologists in Pompei have announced the discovery of a mural showing Narcissus admiring his reflection in the water. What an impressive picture, with its pose like a Titian. The announcement follows the discovery in November of a Leda and the Swan painting which, with its contorted pose and exquisitely painted head, rivals many things painted between 1200 and about 1650. Those Romans! And to think that these were fairly ordinary house paintings in Pompei.   

Lost Henry VIII tapestry found in Spain

September 26 2018

Image of Lost Henry VIII tapestry found in Spain

Picture: Telegraph

A tapestry made for King Henry VIII of England in the 1530s, and thought to have been lost, has been found in Spain. 'Tapestry Tom' Campbell, former Met Director, has been researching the find along with the specialist tapestry dealer Simon Franses. A value of £5m has been mentioned, which seems to me rather low. I was once told (but don't know if it's true) that the most valuable publicly owned items in Britain were the Abraham Tapestries hanging at Hampton Court, which were also made for Henry VIII.

More here

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